Shoe Tying Power

da89ba86166d500c3b0c13f1e2e45969One of the greatest challenges that I think an individual can face during a struggle is a loss of independence, a sudden need to rely on someone else, or to have to ask for help, especially when you have felt you were in control of your life prior to that point. I know that rings true with me as I journey through life with PD. As my handwriting has grown smaller and my voice patterns have changed and my movements have slowed, by far, tying my shoes and buttoning my shirts, all own my own and like a big boy, are two of the things I miss the most. Now this is not an everyday occurrence, but when it does happen, and I need help, I might as well be attempting to pilot a space shuttle or something. Like the picture, I feel like that T-rex trying to tie his shoes because the obstacle is so great; that one simple activity that I have performed tens of thousands of times in my life suddenly becomes impossible, and is horribly out of reach of my capabilities at that time.

Believe me, anger and frustration aren’t the only emotions you feel. Often, the feelings grow into sadness or helplessness or even a state of wondering if you are actually useful. Yep, those are generally kind of rough starts to my day. It breaks your heart inside, and you just feel like there is a giant foot stepping on your very soul like a bug. It is during those times I do draw on my faith, and one of my favorite verses from when my dad passed was Psalm 34:1, “The Lord draws near to those who are brokenhearted, and saves those who are crushed in spirit.” I know I have family and friends who support me in many ways during the rough times, but I also realize that my soul, the warrior spirit inside of me, is never alone. I realize that a broken clock is right twice a day and that broken crayons still color. I realize that my hands may be full with handling PD, but my heart is much more full of encouragement and love and the desire to positively impact someone else’s life.

Each of us, if we truly take the time to realize it, have a huge power within us to first fight through a struggle that we may be facing, but an ever greater power to come along side someone and help them with their struggle. There is a Jewish proverb that says “I ask not for a lighter burden, but broader shoulders.” Any struggle you face today simply develops the strength you will need for tomorrow, and one of the greatest gifts you can offer is to use that strength to help with another’s burden. To me, that is what truly being our best is about: the ability to care enough for another, placing our own struggle aside, and helping them through their struggle. The personal growth we experience and the strength we gain from that will help our own struggles become lighter, and will develop a tremendous power to overcome what we face.

I read a short poem once that said, “Some days are better, some days are worse. Look for the blessing, instead of the curse. Be positive, stay strong, and get enough rest; you can’t do it all, but you can do your best.” No matter the struggle, there will be good days and bad days, but they will all contain blessings. Your best may not be much on some of those bad days, but as long as it is your best, it will always be enough. And always during the sad parts of the struggle look for the positive. You have great power inside of you, so remember the old Confucius saying “With great power comes great electric bill.” He really didn’t say that, but even though a part of you may be broken, broken crayons still really do color, and leave behind beautiful and lasting images.

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Hot Dog Wisdom

32d03f510ce4bf32d8f81750988e013aMan the memories of hot dogs on a Saturday, and eating them on sandwich bread as a kid. I still do sometimes because it’s not really a struggle for me. Neither is turning 50. You may have guessed, today is my birthday. I have made the half century mark, the big “five ohhhhh my goodness.” It’s pretty cool that the same year I started a blog, I actually get to publish one on my birthday. What else is 50 this year? That amazing game changing invention: AstroTurf! Please note that Batman is also 50 this year, and it is no coincidence that you never see the two of us in the same room. One of my favorites, Doritos, is also 50 years old, and I celebrate them by dredging them through sour cream, just prior to munching down on them (probably why I have a statin prescription). And finally, for all of you really cool hip teenage kids who enjoy skateboarding and the like, Vans shoes are also celebrating 50 years this year. So contrary to your opinion, us old guys were cool on skateboards long before you were.

As I turn 50, and move forward through fighting PD, I do try daily to stay focused on the positive things in my life, and even the positive things of living long enough to be as old as Doritos. This week, I read a list of good things about turning fifty, and it included some references to appreciating life more and not worrying about the small stuff and being able to laugh at ourselves and of course, several references about learning and wisdom. You can wear funny sweaters in public, wearing your hair gray is perfectly acceptable (only true in my beard since I am bald), and suddenly, just as if you found childhood again, nap time is fun all over again, and actually needed to root out the grumpiness of being sleepy.

As for appreciating life and being able to laugh at myself (and others), and nap time; I have to say I am 100% on board there. Wisdom? Well, let’s just say that I learned so much from my mistakes in the first 50 years that I am most likely going to make some more, you know, just so I can get a little smarter. I also know that sometimes, as we get older, we wonder how useful our lives have been. I do know for certain that there were points in my life that could have been used as bad examples, and while it was some tough learning for me, I don’t necessarily regret it as it has helped shape me into who I am. I also have some points where my life can be used as a good example, and I hope that my hard earned wisdom is letting me leave more of that legacy each day I wake up.

At the point I decided to take charge of my life with PD, I made a decision to make my life one that is marked by encouragement for others, a life of drive and achievement and motivation, a life that doesn’t quit, that swims upstream, and that stands out when others just need a smile. I work hard each day, trying not to wrap myself up in what can hold me back, but instead trying to point out what someone else has in them to move them forward, to pick them up, and to help them realize the strength within them, and to certainly encourage them to do that with someone else. What a great world we would share in if we each made it a point to leave a positive “hashtag” in someone’s life daily. I read a quote that said “Success consists of doing the common things of life uncommonly well.” Be extraordinary daily, and impact someone else’s life positively today. And try the Doritos thing with the sour cream. And be different; eat your hot dog on sandwich bread as well; it really isn’t a struggle at all.

#noquit #justbe #bike2live #litwithin #move4PD #teamfox #parkinsons

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Tater Head Dreams

72188852I have a niece who, at least most of the time, is sweet like a Cinnabon, but when you stir her up, she is as mean as a bag of rattlesnakes. She is the reason for the Mrs. Potato Head picture. She had an aggressive brain tumor removed in 2015 at the age of 13. She is the inspiration for the Mrs. Potato Head image because, as her crazy uncle, I had the responsibility of making sure she received the gift of one of these (I mean after all, she now had a part removed from her head) and also some of those refrigerator clip style magnets for the plate that replaced the piece of her skull that they had to remove. Now before you think that is awful, I promise that she would do no less for me if the roles were reversed. However, unlike the picture in this blog, I don’t believe she ever had that awkward moment where she was wearing Nike’s and couldn’t “Just Do It.” This young lady has never missed a beat and is indeed a huge blessing and testament as to why adversity should never steal our dreams. She continues to live life fully and be a typical teenager, driving her parents, and teenage boys, crazy.

I remember when I was diagnosed with Parkinson’s, and the fear I felt as I reexamined my dreams, and really my future. I started verbalizing and talking and planning and doing all sorts of other things that seriously stalemate and stagnate dreams. I went from living to thinking; from doing to talking about doing, and all because of the fear and uncertainty of what my future may look like. I remember mulling over being careful and what I would have to give up and the dangers of falling and issues of getting dressed and feeding myself and possibly even seeing myself as a burden one day. That is when I ran across the “Nike” saying. Why was I having this awkward moment of not being able to “do it”, with “it” being anything that I had already dreamed of, and many new things that I would dream of?

It’s like that funny little saying “I saw a Frisbee coming towards me; then it hit me.” I really realized, and quickly, that PD was not going to steal my dreams. The only real risk, the only real challenge I faced, was doing nothing. I needed to stop wishing that I didn’t have Parkinson’s and do something about it. Of course I found great medical care and started a treatment regimen. I started exercising, riding a bike and going to the gym. I even started writing a blog, and plan to go back to school in the spring and pursue my RN degree.  But that wasn’t all. A motivational speaker and life coach named Tony Gaskins once said “If you don’t build your dream, someone else will hire you to build theirs.”

 

There is a 100 mile bike ride in my area for children’s cancer called “Peddlin for a Cure” out of Monroeville, AL. My goal, as I exercise and ride, is to keep me moving, control my PD symptoms, and possibly see some improvement. However, I hope to ride in the 100 mile ride in 2018 in an effort to help raise money for children’s cancer research (the dream side of bike riding). A lot of people say that 100 miles is a really a long distance, but I read a statistic that said that Americans will spend more on coffee in 3 days than the government spends in a year on childhood cancer research. So for me, because of my potato head niece, it is not really that far, and this ride has now become a dream for me, a dream that I am building. So to my Cinnabon sweet, rattlesnake mean niece, thank you for helping me see that adversity should not steal our dreams, and that we should never have awkward moments of not being able to “do” anything while wearing Nike’s. And also, if possible, I need to borrow one of your clip magnets that I gave you for that plate in your head for my bag of chips.

#noquit #justbe #bike2live #litwithin #move4PD #teamfox #parkinsons

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